Chicago Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago
Chicago extends, including its suburbs, for more than 60 mi. along the south-western shores of Lake Michigan. The city is at its most impressive when approached from the lake, for then it presents its fantastic skyline, second only to that of New York.
That also constitutes Chicago's main problem - it is for ever the "second city", involved in a "love-hate" relationship with the city on the east coast. However, Chicago can always make the most of its opportunities; its enjoys a worldwide reputation as a focal point of 20th c. architecture and art, on which architects such as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe or Helmut Jahn and artists like Picasso, Mirõ, Dubuffet and Chagall with their open-air sculptures have left their mark. As a centre of culture too, Chicago is second only to New York. It is home to no fewer than nine universities and numerous internationally renowned research institutes; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute of Chicago are synonymous with culture. On an even more popular level, Chicago is often claimed to be the true "home of the blues", a distinctive style of jazz that musicians from the Mississippi Delta developed here. In the clubs countless bands hope to follow in the footsteps of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie. That Chicago has much to offer in the sporting sphere, too, is demonstrated by the Chicago Bears in American football, the Chicago White Sox and Cubs in baseball and, above all, the Chicago Bulls in basketball. Last but not least; what other cities with populations in the milions can boast such beautiful beaches so close to the city centre?Windy City The climate of the city is characterised by extremes, with winds - sometimes very violent winds - blowing throughout the year. In spite of its situation on Lake Michigan the city can become intolerably hot in summer. In winter influxes of cold air, accompanied by heavy snowfalls and very low temperatures, lead almost regularly to catastrophic conditions in the city.Economy The metropolis of the American Midwest has the world's busiest airport and largest inland port and is one of the most important road and rail hubs in the United States. It is the world's leading commodity futures market, the most important financial centre in the United States after New York and a long-established major industrial centre. Originally the foodstuffs industries (meat processing, milling), with such firms as Kraft and Libby, played a major part; later came mechanical engineering (including agricultural machinery) and motor vehicle construction (Pullman, International Harvesters) and the steel industry (particularly in the suburb of Gary); and in recent years high-tech industries have flourished. Some firms with their headquarters in Chicago are synonymous with the United States throughout the world - McDonald's, Nike, Wrigleys.Chicago's rapidly growing population - from 20,000 in 1848 to 1.6 million at the turn of the 19th c. and 3.2 million in the 1940s - has recently shown a falling trend, resulting from a move to the suburbs, and now stands at around 3 million. The heterogeneous nature of the population is demonstrated by the growth of districts of particular ethnic or national origin, like Bronzeville, inhabited by the coloured population, Chinatown, a Polish quarter that is the third largest concentration of Poles in the world and other districts with predominantly Lithuanian, Swedish, German, Italian, Greek and Jewish populations.History The first whites to come to this area, in 1673, were French prospectors and fur traders. The local Indians called the marshy region "Checagon", which loosely translates as "the place which stinks of onions". The first real settlement on the site of Chicago grew up round Fort Dearborn, which was established in 1803, and was incorporated as a town in 1837. Boosts were given to its growth by the development of the rail network and steam-powered shipping on the Great Lakes. After the Civil War Chicago became the country's leading centre of major industry, attracting a great influx of immigrants from all over the world. Temporary economic difficulties and the enormous pressure of population led to social and ethnic conflicts, reflected in such incidents as the Hay Market riot of 1886 and the Pullman strike in 1894. Gangster activity, too, developed on an unprecedented scale. In October 1871 large areas of the city were destroyed in a catastrophic fire; but recovery was swift, and only 22 years later, in 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition. After the great fire, too, the Chicago school of architects, including such masters as L.H. Sullivan, D.H. Burnham and D. Adler, established their reputation. During the Prohibition era (1919-33) Chicago was tyrannised by gangs, often with the cooperation of bribed police and government officials. One of the leading gangsters of this period was Al Capone. In the 1920s, too, the city became the great centre of jazz, which although born in New Orleans enjoyed a fresh flowering in Chicago. In 1933-4 another very successful world's fair was held in the city. During the economic difficulties of the 1930s a neo-liberal school of economists came to the fore in Chicago. In the 1940s the "second Chicago school" of architects, led by Mies van der Rohe, established their reputation. In 1959 the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway gave the city access to the oceans of the world. Right up to the present day Chicago has perpetuated its tradition as a flagship of international architecture with more and more new buildings.
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